WINTON – There will be no lack of excitement this weekend as the 13th Annual Ely Watercross Race hits the Longbranch Event Center in Winton.

Professional and semipro racers will take to Fall Lake Saturday and Sunday for the competition known as “The Fastest Show on H2O.’’

Kristi Mattila, the secretary of the Watercross Association in Ely, knows just how exciting the races can be as the competitors — including her son Nick — ride on top of the lake’s surface at speeds up to 80 mph.

Considering “there are crashes and things, I just say a little prayer and hope he’s OK.’’

The “Rockin’ and Racing in 2018’’ event is put on by the Ely Watercross Association and sanctioned by the International Watercross Association. Racers from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and more will come for the drag and oval racing. Closer to home, the competitors are from Ely, Hibbing and Two Harbors.

“It’s gotten to be a Range-wide thing,’’ Mattila said.

The drag races start at 10 a.m. each day and the oval competition starts at noon.

In the semifinal class, three racers at a time clash in the four-lap heat races, while the final has the top six racers in a six-lap event. The drivers range from ages 17 to 50.

The professional racers, meanwhile, race three at a time for five laps in the qualifying heats. In the final, the drivers compete for eight laps.

“It gets kind of crazy,’’ Mattila said. “There’s definitely a science to it,’’ she said of racing on top of the lake’s surface.

There is always the possibility a sled will sink, she added, but that is never a big obstacle. The sled is pulled out of the Fall Lake water and the drivers get them running again in minutes. She added that 1 minute and 42 seconds has been the fastest.

“It’s a few minutes and they’re on the water again.’’

Following the pro and semipro competition, novice races are held and included two sleds at a time. The novice races are not part of the sanctioned racing.

Besides the racing action, a concert by Snake Oil will complete Saturday’s activities. The band known for it’s “authentic theatrical tribute to rock’s biggest stars’’ is set to take the stage at 8 p.m. Gates open following the race. Tickes are $20 at the door.


For more information, see the Ely Watercross Association’s Facebook page.


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